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Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID Now

COVID continues to evolve.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The COVID-19 virus continues to evolve to become more contagious—the rise of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants means that a virus that had become many times easier to catch since the beginning of the pandemic is now even more so. "It's going to get easier and easier to get and harder to escape infection. But that doesn't mean we put ourselves in a sort of mind-set that, 'You know, to hell with it. I'm just going to do anything I want to do anyway,'" infectious-disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. To protect yourself, you can take preventative measures in some of the common hot spots for COVID transmission; these are the places you're most likely to catch the coronavirus now. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Anywhere With Low Air Flow

people masks subway
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The COVID virus continues to evolve, but one thing that hasn't changed: It spreads efficiently in areas that are poorly ventilated. To effectively improve air flow, the easiest thing you can do is open the windows, Linsey Marr, a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, told NPR News this week. "Especially if you can open them on opposite sides of the room, so you get some cross-ventilation—air coming in one and going out the other."

2

Households

Beautiful family in medical masks against coronavirus at home
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According to data from the CDC, the household transmission rate for COVID is about 53%. "The ability to transmit from one person to another in close quarters, that will still happen. Nothing has changed in terms of how we can catch this very infectious airborne virus when we are in close proximity to someone else," Mark Cameron, infectious disease researcher at Case Western Reserve University, told HuffPost in May.

3

Gyms

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A recent study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology calculated the riskiest places for catching COVID. Coming out on top: a crowded, poorly ventilated area where people are exercising heavily—a.k.a. the gym. Marr advised her local gym to improve ventilation by keeping its doors open. "I estimated how much benefit we would get from opening the doors and it was a ton, so we kept them open all winter," Marr says. There was no known COVID transmission at that location. 

4

Indoor Restaurants and Bars 

young friends eating together at restaurant
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Indoor restaurants and bars continue to be a COVID risk. "Dining in right now as Omicron is sweeping across the state is risky because in order to dine you must take off your mask," said Dr. Christine Petersen, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Iowa. To lower your risk, dine outdoors or opt for takeout.

5

Large Indoor Gatherings

group of friends eating a fancy meal together
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Just like indoor restaurants and bars, large indoor gatherings continue to be a major risk for COVID transmission. They're usually poorly ventilated and packed with people who are often maskless, expelling virus particles into the air. A reminder: Several recent prominent events, including the White House Correspondent's Dinner and Gridiron Club Dinner, have been followed by outbreaks among attendees. The Environmental Science & Technology researchers called "gather[ing] together with lots of people in an enclosed space with poor air quality" a "surefire way to catch COVID-19."

6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael